Peterborough officers avoid jail term for assault on innocent man
Two Peterborough police officers who dragged an innocent man to the ground and stamped on his hand after mistaking him for a missing dementia suffer escaped immediate jail terms.
PCs David Littlemore and John Richardson were out looking for a man in his 70s with Alzheimer’s who had disappeared from his home.
They saw victim John Morgan, 59, who was sitting on a park bench as he was out with his Jack Russell Winston.
Littlemore, 35, approached him and Mr. Morgan, who has poor sight and diabetes, told him he was not the right man but refused to give his name and address.
A court heard Littlemore was suspicious that Mr Morgan was putting on an accent because he spoke with a Welsh accent.
Mr. Morgan told the court he was then ‘dragged to the floor’ by Littlemore and Richardson, 50, who twisted his arms behind his back.
His phone and glasses fell to the ground and he said Richardson repeatedly stamped in his right hand.
Mr Morgan was only released when Littlemore confirmed via his radio that the missing man’s dog was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier type - not a Jack Russell.
District Judge Susan Holdham sentenced both PCs to three months in prison suspended for two years and fined them #1,030 each.
She said: “I have heard a lot about how stressful and difficult this time has been for the officers.
“You have both lost good character and probably whatever the sentence you will lose your employment.
“However, I remember what I saw at the trial. I saw a man who was, if not actually frail, but certainly not robust.
“A man with various ailments and although not related to the case with diabetes and have part of his foot amputated.
“He was a man minding his own business with his dog that day you came up to him.
“You asked him for his name and address as you thought he might be the missing gentleman with Alzheimer’s.
“When he refused he was brought to the floor, he was punched, constrained, had his thumb bent back to release a dog lead and hand stood on.
“I still find it very difficult to understand what was going through your minds that day.
“You could have thought he was a vulnerable man who said he needed safeguarding.
And to this day I do not understand how taking a man like that to the floor is safeguarding.
“I saw Mr Morgan was very reasonable and particularly depressed as he had to have his foot amputated since.
“This happened because he did not give his name and address and he was dealt with as if is some kind of police state and taken to the floor for not giving their name and address.
“He was either a 76-year-old man with Alzheimer’s or he was an innocent man who refused to give his name and address.
“It is vital society has faith in their police officers and society is entitled to look to police officers to use their powers responsibly and that was not done that day.”
Mike Humphreys, prosecuting, told the district judge in Luton the PCs had “no legal authority to do what they did.”
District Judge Holdham agreed and said Mr Morgan had every right to free himself from Pc Richardson holding his arm.
Mr Morgan refused to give his details when approached by the officer in the park by Severn Close in Peterborough in August last year.
Retired engineer Mr Morgan told the court earlier this month: “Officer two on my right [Richardson] wrenched my thumb back from my index finger and tried to get the dog lead out of my hand.
“He then stamped on my hand repeatedly and a lot of pressure was put on my back by officer one [Littlemore]. It could have killed me.
“I remember asking them about my human rights and taking their collar numbers which I forgot and being very disorientated.
“I remember officer two [Richardson] saying he ‘did not care’ repeatedly about my vulnerability.”
The missing man, Bill King, was described as wearing a hat, check shirt, brown cord trousers, brown shoes and had a black and white dog with him.
Mr Morgan was described as wearing a similar outfit also with a black and white dog, but wearing but black combat trousers.
It was confirmed in a radio conversation between PC Littlemore and another officer that the missing man did not have a Welsh accent.
The correct missing man was found later that day and Richardson assisted in taking him home to his family.
Littlemore, of Wittering, and Richardson, of Kings Cliffe, both denied assault by beating, but were found guilty by the judge arlier this month.
The judge ordered Richardson to carry out 200 unpaid work and Littlemore is required to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work.
Both were ordered to pay £1,030 - £450 compensation to Mr Morgan, costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £80.
Littlemore has 10 years service with Cambridgeshire Police and Richardson has been with the same force for 18 years.
Littlemore’s parents, wife and sister were in court.
Richardson and Littlemore both refused to comment as they left court today (Tuesday).Both officers were put on restricted duties while the investigation was being carried and suspended from duty following the guilty verdict. They will now face internal misconduct proceedings.
Detective Superintendent Mark Hodgson, head of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Professional Standards Department, said: “We want the public and our own employees to feel confident about raising concerns about the conduct of our officers and staff and we will always investigate these cases thoroughly and ensure prosecutions are brought where appropriate.
“All our officers must act within the lawful execution of their duties and on this occasion these officers clearly did not.”